CDC workers possibly exposed to anthraxThe CDC Roybal Campus. Source: CDC.gov
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta reports that approximately 75 Atlanta-based employees have possibly been exposed to live anthrax bacteria.
The employees are being monitored and provided antibiotics, the CDC says.
According to CDC, “Established safety practices were not followed.”
“Out of an abundance of caution, CDC is taking aggressive steps to protect the health of all involved, including providing protective courses of antibiotics for potentially exposed staff,” CDC said in a press release. “Based on most of the potential exposure scenarios, the risk of infection is very low. Based on the review to date, CDC believes that other CDC staff, family members, and the general public are not at risk of exposure and do not need to take any protective action.”
CDC is investigating the matter. So far, investigators have determined that one lab at the Roybal campus in Atlanta was preparing samples for research at other CDC labs in an effort to find new ways of “detecting dangerous pathogens in environmental samples.”
“However, the lab used a procedure that did not adequately inactivate the samples,” the CDC said.
CDC said the potentially infectious samples were moved to labs that weren’t set up to handle live bacteria.
“Workers, believing the samples were inactivated, were not wearing adequate personal protective equipment while handling the material,” the CDC said.
The investigators also discovered that at some point between June 6 and June 13, the spores may have become aerosolized, meaning they were light enough to be carried by the air.
“Environmental sampling was done, lab and hallway areas were decontaminated and laboratories will be re-opened when safe to operate,” the CDC said.